Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Speech Communication

First Advisor

Stucky,Nathan

Abstract

This study examines mainly cross-cultural adaptation--acculturation, deculturation, and the forming of intercultural identity. I conducted an ethnographic study on cross-cultural adaptation among Japanese and U.S.-American employees who worked at a Japanese plant in the U.S. Midwest for ten months in 2005. This study explored how Japanese and U.S.-American employees in the plant narrate their cross-cultural adaptation process to their counterpart's culture, while paying attention to aspects of power, such as race, gender, status, language fluency, Japanization context, and the host society. Recent ethnographic scholarship includes a number of related perspectives: interpretive, critical, and postmodern. Each approach informs the present study. I drew on a wide variety of interpretive methods: participant observation, interviews, surveys, observation, and autoethnography. Because I am a sojourner from Japan who has lived in the U.S., who has also been experiencing cross-cultural adaptation, I tried to make my positionality visible in this study with the use of autoethnography. I believe that it is crucial, since my understanding about cross-cultural adaptation comes not only from my research, my fieldwork or the process of writing, but also from my own everyday bodily experiences as a sojourner. Although I employed a variety of traditional modern ethnographic methods, my own fieldwork process and texts may resonate with these postmodern ethnographic perspectives or a "postmodern sensibility." I tried to have a keen awareness of my own subjectivity, therefore having self-reflexivity in my work, while paying attention to rhetorical moves, problems of voice, power, textual politics, limits of authority, truth claims, and unconscious desires. I strived for an intimacy and vulnerability in my work, while paying attention to rhetorical choices to make my work more evocative, narratively interesting, and dialogic. While conducting this ethnographic study, I faced methodological questions because of my positionality as a "border-crossing" ethnographer/writer, who was a Japanese non-native English speaker and who engaged in ethnographic writing in English. I address border-crossing ethnographic practices while connecting to issues of representation, legitimacy, and aesthetics. Based on my findings, I discuss how this study may potentially contribute to the following scholarly disciplines: discourse on cross-cultural adaptation, intercultural communication, whiteness studies, and research on border-crossing ethnographic practices.

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